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Black Pig Christmas, Cow New Year

Actual black pig

When Sam was three, he noticed this black wrought iron pig on the fireplace. More specifically, he noticed it was EVIL. The pig loomed up huge in his dreams, chasing him and knocking him down the stairs and pouncing on him and eating him from the feet on up, “While I was ALIVE!” as he said, indignant and trembling at 2 am.

I had to hide it in a drawer, as toddler-Sam visibly SHIED whenever he had to pass it. He was SO convinced of its inherent evil that he convinced Bagel, who started submissively genuflecting when he passed the pig in much the same way he genuflects and ducks sideways from cats.

DIGRESSION: Schubert taught him that cats have a POINTY end, and should one jam one’s face in the seemingly harmless butt end for a friendly getting to know you sniff, the POINTY end comes for you. Bagel genuflects for Mango, a fellow who is not half so invested in his own personal Dignity as Schubert. Mango is an easy going sort who has allowed Ansley to butt sniff with no more then gently lifted reproving eyebrow, but the bloody things that Schubert taught us ….they cannot be untaught. This, my friends, is LEGACY. /Digression

The Black Pig, at our house, is the worst kind of harbinger, the worst omen, the shadow-lurker, the eater of hope. Through a good piece of November and all of December, I felt him around every corner, saw him from the corner of my eye in the shadows by the fireplace.

But now Dad seems to be in a really good place. His recovery is slow. But steady. A steady movement in all the right directions.

I think The Black Pig’s gone for now. I think he got cowed out.

Cowed out? Yes, that’s a thing. When Sam was three, he had an imaginary friend. It was a cow. It was a cow named ONTOG who lived in the garden shed. Ontog was preternaturally heroic and brave for a cow, and also a boy. But still a cow. Not a Bull. A BOY cow of wisdom and mightiness.

Cows, in our family lexicon, are good. We often associate the brightest things in our life with cows, as good ness and cows are inextricably cow-lated. For example, we call Scott’s iPad—which we all love and which we all fuss to hold on car trips because it has NINE KINDS of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope—we call it The Moo Cow. I got a Google Pad with MINI Angry Birds, and it is called Mini Moo.

Also, BAGEL! Bagel is the dumbest of all our animals—possibly EVER, possibly even including Spotty the Newt. His brain activity is best expressed by a low hum bouncing up into a high pitched hum when people drop food. DUMB DUMBD DUMB, but also the goodest in his good heart.

His nicknames include Moo Moo, Mr. Moo, Mooly and, perhaps my favorite, he is often called Cattle. Sometimes even The Cattle, as if he is SO good, his goodness cannot be expressed by a single cow.

Cows in this house stand for all that is right and kind, and I am moderately hopeful that we are going to have a Cow New Year.

I’ve decided to be gentle and Cowful to myself, at any rate—my New Year’s Resolution was to NOT declare a bunch of unreasonably strict resolutions in public and then bust them, one by one, in a spectacular flame-out.

But I am going to finish the ORGANIZATION SERIES! Just as soon as I get organized. HA! No seriously, that’s already started and should be done next week. And I know I owe you a little something horrifying, mortally humiliating, and Gangnammy. That’s in the works – filming scheduled for the end of the month.

What was yours? I’ve missed you! I feel like I have missed a whole six weeks of everything. ARE YOU COWFUL? Or Pig-fested? WHAT’S UP, Buttercups, and what did YOU resolve?

29 comments to Black Pig Christmas, Cow New Year

  • Kathy

    I just LOVE you and your family! (NO! Not in an icky stalkerish kind of way.) Just smiley. And Happy Cowful New Year!

  • Linda J

    First off glad to hear dad is doing better. I was getting worried with you being gone for so long, we missed you.

    My house is having a whole farm of a year for now. Heaven help me I’m trying to look for the cow but when the whole dern heard of pig come barreling at me what to do??? Grab a bat and go at it? Sounds like fun. But when the pigs start messing with my car and my work then we have a problem. Now with my old man he is a PIG to be sure but I’ve had to deal with worse so…

    For the second year in a row my old man got me NOTHING for Christmas even though I gave him plenty of hints. Money was not an issue so I still have a grudge about that. Kids were happy with their gifts.

    I spent the sons Christmas break counting down the days hoping that 2013 will bring a new JJ book. Is there any news you can share? I need a JJ hit for sure.

    I need a good dose of cow for sure but when the pig muck is up to my knees it needs to be a MIGHTY cow..

    Again We missed you SO GLAD YOUR BACK !!!

  • Amy

    Aaaahahaahaa – cows! Cows are good here too, we even have a loud one in the pasture now (absolutely the cutest thing on four legs, except for her calf). For a long time “cows!” was what we said when one “holy cow!” just wasn’t enough.

  • Jan in Norman, OK

    Whew!! I’ve been worrying about you and your father. And I figured that the Cotton Bowl couldn’t have helped. (…sigh)

    Your post reminded me of one of my favorite sayings: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

    So, this year I will aim to attract cows to my particular link in the Great Chain of Being and to stop annoying pigs. (Too many metaphors?)

  • kim

    Welcome back to your blog!! I hope the cows are plentiful for all of us this year. (Reminds me if Sandra Boynton’s Cows story/song, which makes me smile.)

  • Catherine

    So, So glad you are back!!! We have all been so worried! My resolution this year was simply not to resolve anything! A total cop out but I can’t handle any more pigs right now either. Though I fear some are hiding around the corner. Cows for every one!

  • DebR

    I’m glad you and your family are all alive! I was getting worried enough to consider sending you an email or FB message or something to ask, but then what if you wrote back and said, “no, sorry, I’m dead” – that would have been very Black Pig. So I didn’t bug you and figured you’d be back to blogifying when you were ready, whether things were Piggish, Cowish or Powish. (you know…in between)

    2012 could pretty much be called The Year of the Black Pig in my life and so far 2013 hasn’t shown a sign of improvement but to be fair it’s only 9 days in, so there’s still 356 days left for improvement. Can I get a Cowabunga!?!

  • LaurieB

    I’m so glad your dad is going well.

    I don’t have any particularly bad omen animals *in* my house (in Sandy Springs, howdy kinda-neighbor) but we hate the area resident copperhead snakes with the hate of a thousand white-hot suns. I’ve got a wooded lot and have to watch out for them in the Spring and Summer. And Fall and sometimes in the Winter, too. Thanks, global warming…

    BTW, I’ve made a first step in naming some of our inanimate objects , following your stellar example. Mabel is the name of the new chest freezer. Gave us the cold shoulder until we named her, heh.

  • So glad to see you back, and to hear about your dad’s recovery. I’ve been harboring that worry in one part of my brain. I must say the Black Pig was stomping me with his cloven devil-hoofs towards the end of last year, but when you hit January 1st, the only way you can move forward is to declare it pure Cow. That is the only way. I had a vacation without my kids and it cleared my sludgy heart. Having been born and raised on a farm, I am quite acquainted with cows. Raised a few meself and sold them off, heartlessly, at the 4H auction, for the sake of college money. They are the dumbest animals that God ever put on this earth, but they have the purest little souls and the sweetest eyes.

  • WHAT a nice reward to find you here!!!! I’ve missed you.

    Oh, how I remember you telling the story of poor Sam and “the pig he eat me legs.” Having finally SEEN the black cast iron pig, I tend to agree with Sam. I’d keep an eye on him too.

    Cows at least make much more gentle sounds–the mooing and lowing and contemplative cud chewing as they stand belly deep in a summer pond or saunter to the barn for some sweet feed. No squealing or snorting.

    I am VERY GLAD that the squealing pigs of Christmas (both black and otherwise) are fading and the mooing cattle of the New Year are surrounding you.

  • jeanette in peculiar

    Cows are good at our house too! If you recall from my past posts, I am the crazy one who married my mailman. We fell in love through our 5 minute talks while he was delivering the mail. We equate each of those 5 minute visits to one of those little pats of butter (the kind on the wax card with the paper on top…..like you get with your roll when you suffer through Thanksgiving Lunch with your kids in the school cafeteria)and after so long, without even realizing it, we had accumulated enough butter to make a whole Butter Cow (like the giant Butter Cow sculpture at the Iowa State Fair. Google it. Really.) So we joke about having a “Butter Cow kind of love”.

    I am finding it is similar to raising a teen-ager. You take the 5 great minutes a day you can manage with them (you know, the 5 minutes when neither of you is eye-rolling the other and no one is looking at their hand held electronic devices) and you put them all together and hope you end up with a Butter Cow love by the time they leave home.

  • Okay. My 2013 is off to a good start, because, besides the fact I don’t know you other than in a pixelated fashion, I was concerned about your silence. Now we are back to Bagels and cows and pointy-ended cats, and I am serene. You don’t need to do a Gangnamized video on my account. On the other hand, if you do, I’ll definitely view it.

  • Lulu

    Oh, so, so glad you are back and things are looking better!

    I am standing on a cliff with my New Year’s resolution/project, about to shove it off and see if it will fly. Ha.

    We are going to Seattle over MLK weekend so son can give us our “Christmas experience present.” I sincerely hope it does not involve hurling ourselves off cliffs. But husband believes it will be this: http://iflyseattle.com/ifly-indoor-skydiving?gclid=CN7S1P6S3bQCFUjZQgodV38Akg

    Heaven help us.

  • Brigitte

    I’m oddly in love with your evil pig, there’s something wrong with me. And I don’t do resolutions!
    But I’m so happy things are cowful for you, may entire herds of cattle trample your lawn throughout the year.

  • cakeburnette

    Happy 2013! Indeed, may it be the year of the Cow for you and yours. Missed you during the holidays (in a non-stalkerish way, of course), but am relieved it was because you were enjoying your family and not attending to the aftermath of eels.

  • Also! I love everyone here. BUTTER! COW! kind of LOVE!

    Also ALSO! The Black Pig reminds me of a comment on an old post of mine in which I asked people to identify an armadillo. (WHAT. It’s the Internet. We do that here.) One of my friends inside the computer said, “That animal looks a lot like the anteater Beanie Baby my husband found in some old stuff the other day. For some reason it scares the crap out of my two-year-old — it’s a tiny stuffed animal! — so now when we don’t want her to touch something we put the anteater on it.”

  • So glad you are back, and wishing you many many fat and happy cow days this year.

    Have you read The Price, by Neil Gaiman? Your post reminds me of it for some reason. (It must be your mention of Schubert.)

  • Jennifer G

    Welcome back! So good to hear your father is doing well!

    Five years ago I moved to the country – far enough from Chicago that the county fair has real live farm animals. I took my mom to the fair where she had her first close-up encounter with a cow (it was lying down): “What is THAT?” “um…a Cow?” “What? It’s as big as a Volkswagon!”

    Let this be the year of the COW (forget snakes, eww).

  • Carrie (in MN)

    In Iowa, they may have a cow carved of butter, but in Minnesota our state fair features a butter princess sculpture. Yup.

    I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve been fretting over your father, along with fretting about a list Cairn terrier in my neighborhood. Found out yesterday the terrier was found after surviving a bitterly cold Minnesota January night – he’s okay! Now I’m fretting over those stranded whales in Canada. In short, I am good and hopeful for cow-filled tidings, but getting tired of feeling as though I am constantly walking around just a little too sensitive to sad things. Eh, it’s winter on the tundra. Shoo, pigs!

  • Carrie (in MN)

    Lost, not list!

  • Ruth

    The year of the snake is supposed to start in a few weeks, but for you may it be the year of the cow. Though, like Brigitte, I love the black pig. He looks forlorn, like Wilbur when things weren’t going well.
    In regards to New Years and resolutions, I am a firm traditionalist — I started a diet and will stick to it, right up until I don’t!

  • Ruth

    Also, I love the little monsters! I will never use a picture, because then I wouldn’t get my own monster.

  • I can relate to the black pig. My aunt had a cuckoo clock. Every hour the little bird would pop out to dance and sing, and little me would run screaming hysterically from the living room, sobbing into the arms of any adult close enough to shield me from the cuckoo’s horror.


    My MIL now has a clock that sings and spins it’s numbers and little dancing people every hour on the hour. It’s like Alice in Wonderland or Salvador Dali… It brought the cuckoo to mind. I can’t decide if I love or hate the Tripping-on-Acid clock.

  • Michelle-Who-Is-Shelley

    I will add to the choruses above of “I’m so glad to hear that your dad is in a good place and doing better each day!”

    I think the state of Michigan should be renamed during the winter to the state of Black Pig, because this time of year is definitely the eater of hope.

    Favorite cow expression in our family is “it’s a moo point” from FRIENDS Joey: “Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. *beat* It’s moo. ”

    Only New Years resolution this year is to remember to write “2013” instead of “2012”.

  • Love cows, always have. As a toddler I was afraid of chickens but climbed through the fence to say hi to the cows. I’m not a big fan of pigs, though my neighbor has a pig statue he periodically paints different colors which is fun. Wishing you a cowful year and continued good news for your dad.

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Joss is back!

    I am extremely glad to hear that your dad is on the mend and is more cowful than pignetted. (I call cows “cowoos,” to account for the moo sound — typically, “Look, a cowoooo!” It has caught on with my husband, which makes me very happy.)

    I don’t generally make resolutions, but VCFA swallowed my husband at the end of the year, taking him away during my birthday and NYE, so he was super-sweet in trying to make my birthday a bit better (everyone leaves town between Christmas and NYE, it seems, so hardly anyone was around to even hang out with) and came up with a daily letter. His E-day was “Élan,” which has inadvertently become my 2013 resolution.

  • Heather Porterfield

    We are on board with your cows… and hippos… we loves us some hippos… I knew you were good people… we are partial to purple cows up in this joint, but our hippos are welcome in a variety of shades…

    SOoooooo glad you are feeling better about the place you find your Dad in. Worry is a difficult thing to navigate with happiness and cowness…

    My only resolution is to continue to choose happiness over deep seated panic and “borrowing trouble” as my mom would say. So far, so good….

  • Yay! I’m so glad you’re back and your father is getting stronger. I have missed your posts.

    I’m a big believer in resolutions. Research shows a person is 10 times more likely to achieve a goal if they explicitly make resolutions. But I also believe in making them as positive as possible. So the latest revision of the book will be in the publishers hands by 2/8/13 and I’m going to get back inside my healthy weight range by April (when Mike and I are going to Ireland or possibly England to celebrate my first book and might even decide to exchange vows if we are feeling it in the moment).